Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mr Tammar Goes To Washington

So the hotel was bijou and broke-down and you could hear the snoring next door and the nightclub just over and there was no sleep to be had, even later, as the maids started hoovering at dawn, so I gave up on sleep altogether and meandered around the city in a dazed and over-sensitized dreamstate wherein I settled uneasily on the periphery of tears but could not tell if they were of joy or sadness and the distance between me and the world became null and a million miles and all became seamless and fated. Cocooned in this delirium I was to the software conference to which I'd been assigned as Hunter S Thompson to the Mint 400; alienated and insurgent.

DrupalCon 2009: now widely regarded as the least photogenic event in recorded history. It was nevertheless both intellectually and anthropologically stimulating and my disquiet more a product of my own uncertainty (reflected on with Proustian intricacy and langour in lieu of sleep) and insomnia than the event itself, remarkable at once for its density, opacity and emptiness - a black hole of geekery.

DC itself: Parisian in aspect, yet empty and lifeless. One expects more from a capital city, in size, in variety, in animation. In place of heterogeneity, a bifurcation, of rich and poor, largely along racial lines, a disturbing reminder of the miracle that brought Obama to the Whitehouse. Amid the monuments and statues, the mentally ill, homeless and without medication, talking to themselves, asking mister can you spare a dime.

Still, a change is as good as a rest, and there were some highlights: warming my hands above a grating on the frozen National Mall, the skeletal remains of the giant ground sloth at the Smithsonian Musuem of Natual History - some 17 feet tall - plus the Hope diamond upstairs, a wonderful dinner with a colleague from the company's international arm, a couple of pints with Keith and Dom from Basingstoke, the empirical proof of my hypothesis that you cannot mix anything with Jaegermeister, the vital rememberance of all that means most to me, the empty promise of a free and rudderless existence.

Pennsylvania Ave.

I buy my own props!

One of the Smithsonian's many dinosaurs.

And one of the Smithsonian's many museums.

Dinosaur attack! I bought this furry fella for Ethan, who was almost comically ungrateful. He gets that from me, apparently.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

To hell and back - in my lunch hour

Picking up lunch at Carl's Junior is very much the everyday and more successful equivalent of Orpheus' descent into Hell to retrieve Eurydice. For the uninitiated, the Carl's Junior six-dollar burger is not simply the finest fast-food burger, it is the finest hamburger known to humanity, the platonic ideal. I have eaten burgers at some pretty upmarket establishments (OK, in the bar of some pretty upmarket establishments), and I can tell you that all are as a travesty when set against the Carl's Junior archetypal form. Naturally, I have been widely mocked for this assertion, but such counterarguments that exist are based on ignorance and, to be fair, justifiable prejudice. For every other aspect of the Carl's Junior experience is loathsome in the extreme.

Of course, the interior is the standard neon-lit white-with-corporate-palette-highlights plastic limbo that is de rigeur in the industry, although there is a noticable absence of piped musak which, counter intuitively, only highlights the existential vacuum at the core of one's being. Naturally, the ambient experience can be minimized by getting the burger "to go"; nevertheless, one if forced to hang around whilst the order is prepared. The clientèle are typical inhabitants of Dante's third circle: a junkie sleeps off his fix under a table, another laughs maniacally into space, a pimp comforts a waif, and so forth, while even the staff - mechanically friendly if jaded and possibly in the early stages of withdrawal - avoid eye contact with their customers. One orders, jumping through the linguistic hoops necessary to escape with just the thing you actually came in for and not a supersized carton of fries and a bucket of well soda of an appropriate capacity for a horse. One is handed a ticket. Then there is the waiting. The area in front of the counter at Carl's Junior must be one of the few places outside of prison that elicits the sense that one might get stabbed at any given moment, adding a further frisson of excitement to the adventure. Then at last Persephone calls out one's number. You grab the bag and escape, taking care not to look back until safely seated at the office lunch counter. Thence to feast, a transcendent moment which - granted, unbelievably - makes the preceding quest worthwhile.

Oddly, the six-dollar burger retails for $4.95.

Obligatory photos of Ethan now follow...

A splendid occasion - we're invited round to Derek and Sonja's for dinner! Here Derek lounges beneath a picture of his homeland while Ethan ransacks his drawers.

Ethan playing with his old school wooden toy.

Bathtime fun. Am pleased that bathtime is again fun - there was prolonged phase during which it was considered abject torture.

He is wearing my hat!